J.J. Abrams on keeping secrets

Posted by · 7:02 pm · April 21st, 2009

J.J. AbramsI enjoyed this J.J. Abrams editorial in this month’s issue of WIRED magazine for the most part.  But even with his somewhat noble point (that spoilers, cheating and the “age of immediacy” have dulled the satisfaction we get out of the “process” of doing, watching or experiencing something), I can’t help but sense a heavier condoning of twists and “surprises” as a necessity in the film and television world.  Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, Abrams starts out like so:

…why does it feel like the world has been ripped open, all parts exposed? Why does so much seem absolutely and thoroughly demystified? These days we can leap, all of us, from a casual curiosity about anything to a sense of satisfying understanding. Instantly. Want to fold origami? There are more than 200,000 Google results on that subject available to you, now. Need to know the capital of Mauritania? A recipe for sticky buns? How to pick a bicycle lock? You could answer all these questions in less time than it will take you to finish reading this article (which, for a second time, I suggest you skip. Remember: You know how it ends, so why are you still here?).

What I’m getting at is hardly news to anyone: We’re smack dab in the middle of the Age of Immediacy.

True understanding (or skill or effort) has become bothersome—an unnecessary headache that impedes our ability to get on with our lives (and most likely skip to something else). Earning the endgame seems so yesterday, especially when we can know whatever we need to know whenever we need to know it.

After having bookended the piece with a great story about how he and his friend tried to beat Super Mario Bros. 2 (I’ve certainly never done this — anyone?), he closes thusly:

Perhaps that’s why mystery, now more than ever, has special meaning. Because it’s the anomaly, the glaring affirmation that the Age of Immediacy has a meaningful downside. Mystery demands that you stop and consider—or, at the very least, slow down and discover. It’s a challenge to get there yourself, on its terms, not yours.

It’s a good read. Check out the rest here.

→ 6 Comments Tags: | Filed in: Daily

6 responses so far

  • 1 4-21-2009 at 8:08 pm

    Kyle said...

    I’d beaten Super Mario Bros. 2 (using a Game Genie of course) when I was in about 3rd grade…worst ending for a video game ever, *spoiler* Mario wakes up…*spoiler* that’s what I get for cheating.

  • 2 4-21-2009 at 9:17 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    I just gained even more respect for Abrams after reading this. Thanks for posting Kris.

  • 3 4-22-2009 at 8:08 am

    Zac said...

    I beat Super Mario 2 WITHOUT CHEATING almost 20 years ago and while the ending wasn’t all that it could have been, it was still satisfying knowing that I had beaten the game.

  • 4 4-22-2009 at 9:05 am

    Mike_M said...

    I have this issue of Wired at home, can’t wait to read it…

  • 5 4-23-2009 at 9:11 am

    pete said...

    what the hell is he doing in that chair? such a weird pose.

  • 6 4-23-2009 at 11:11 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I think he’s holding a mobile device.